Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Pictures at an Exhibition - Sara Houghteling
For awhile, I was reading quite a number of books about art theft, art fraud, and art stolen during the Holocaust (including Noah Charney's The Art Thief, and Edward Dolnick's books The Forger's Spell and The Rescue Artist). So, I was a little reluctant to pick this one up, even though it is written by the fiance of my friend Daniel (and author of The Piano Tuner). But, I'm glad I did. Pictures at an Exhibition takes place in Paris, and chronicles a young man's quest to recover his father's paintings which were looted by the Nazis during WWII. While the book is fiction, Houghteling's background in art history comes through in her historical detail and meticulous descriptions of the missing art. The writing is beautiful, and I often found myself so lost in passages, almost to the detriment of the overall story. I was impressed with how seamlessly the story turned from the art museums and auction houses, to the main character's world of medicine, while all the while incorporating a love story and the mystery of the lost paintings. Pictures at an Exhibition is suspenseful and filled with family secrets, while at the same time written so beautifully as to be its own work of art.